Background: An increasing number of older people are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease or another dementias. The resultant cognitive impairment has been well identified as one of the risk factors for nursing home placement but it has not been well studied as a risk for hospitalization.
Methods: To study the association between cognitive impairment and hospital use, this study examined data from a randomly selected cohort of community dwelling California elderly (California Senior Survey). The cohort was followed for one year (N = 940).
Results: Only about 17 percent of the study population was in the mildly or moderately/severe impaired category. Those participants with cognitive impairment were almost twice as likely as those without any impairment to be hospitalized and to be hospitalized for six days or more.
Conclusions: Although the cause of the cognitive impairment and hospitalization was not determined in this study, the data support the importance of cognitive impairment as a risk factor for hospital use even after controlling for age, ADL, IADL, and prior hospitalizations. The causes for this need to be further examined so the burden of such care can be reduced.